PSYC 303 By now you have probably noticed



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PSYC 303 By now you have probably noticed

By now you have probably noticed in our assigned readings that the study of sensation and perception focuses on experiences you may have had but never given any thought to; for example, the “Purkinje shift” described below. We do not think much about these phenomena because our world is so full of them that if we had to be conscious of every sensation and its accompanying perception that we ever experienced our brains would have little time for anything else, and our grey matter needs to be engaged every waking and sleeping second in very important other processes. This leaves us with an important question: Does knowledge of perceptual experiences that we all have in common really matter? The answer is yes, but why and how varies depending on the particular perceptual phenomenon. Because there are real-life phenomena associated with everything discussed in our readings and dialoguing about them can bring theory and fact to life, for the remainder of our forums we will be doing the following:

In your forum “initial post” describe how one of the perceptual phenomena mentioned in the readings explains an everyday event that you have experienced or observed and then suggest how this phenomenon might have serious consequences (so first a description of an everyday experience and its impact and second a description ways in which it can have serious impact). For the purpose of this forum, we will define “serious impact” as something that has negative consequences to health and safety of the self or others rather than something that is inconvenient or embarrassing. Not being able to distinguish colors under certain light may lead to getting home after a shopping trip only to find out an outfit is not the color you thought it was, which can be inconvenient if you have to return the outfit. Not being able to distinguish colors under certain war zone conditions, on the other hand, can be safety and life threatening. You will need to be specific, thorough and concrete. Just tacking onto the end of a post a statement or two that something could be a problem is not sufficient. Additionally, saying you don’t know of any negative consequences will not be sufficient to earn points. You will need to explain how the phenomenon specifically has a negative impact. An example, described in Nicholas Wade’s 2000 “The Natural History of Vision” is below. NOTE: Because this one has already been applied, you must select another. Additionally, unless you are discussing one of the more common disorders, like a lack of depth perception or hearing loss, you’ll want to avoid “I think I have this condition…” syndrome. So commonly occurring that there is a name for it, “medical student’s disease,” people in medical school often fall prey to this thinking in their early years of study because they spend so much time researching human disorders. Sooner or later, almost all of them decide they have or someone they know has one of the conditions they are studying, whether it be a common or exceedingly rare one.

You should start each “initial forum post” with, “For my perceptual phenomenon this week I chose _____________(fill in this blank with the name of the phenomenon)”, then  give a brief description of how the phenomenon works (don’t dwell too much on this part – we can all read the details in the textbook or in an article – and instead just provide enough information so we all as readers of your post understand what happens when the phenomenon occurs) and describe both your everyday example of the occurrence of the phenomenon and how it could have serious consequences. The phenomenon can be one occurring in persons not suffering a particular condition (like the example below–pretty much everybody experiences what happens to our ability to differentiate colors and their brightness around dusk and that is not abnormal at all) or it can be the result of a disorder or injury. And of course, the phenomenon won’t always be about vision.

Finally, while it is expected that more than one person might pick the same phenomenon because the human experience is filled with many of them but the number is not infinite, you should make a good effort to no repeat ideas classmates have already brought to the discussion.  If you repeatedly only select what others have already discussed, or if your post essentially replicates the work of another student has already posted, points cannot be assigned for your post.

Below is an example of a perceptual phenomenon, on the one hand, having an impact that might only affect the outcome of artistic endeavors and only be upsetting to the artist and possibly the subjects of his paintings, or, on the other hand, having life-endangering consequences.

In the 1800s, Mathia Plotz was painting a military portrait and noted that some features of the uniform appeared to change colors and the colors became less distinguishable from one another toward dusk. Plotz had experienced something called the “Purkinje Effect” in which the ability to distinguish brightness of colors, particularly reds and blues, diminishes as the colors darken. Toward dusk there would be less light and the colors of the uniforms of Plotz’s portrait subjects would grow less distinct as the light around him darkened near the end of the day. Being able to distinguish uniform colors may only have impacted Plotz’s ability to produce accurate and attractive portraits, in which case he either needed to paint in better light or be able to lay down paint in ways that accurately captured the subdued color contrasts of a dusk viewing experience without making a dusk scene painting look murky and unattractive.  But trouble seeing uniform colors and distinguishing uniforms from other objects in one’s world also could have very serious implications. One may find it difficult to see an enemy soldier in hiding toward dusk or have trouble telling enemies’ uniforms from those of friendlies during a dusk raid or battle.